2 Tesla Talking Points: A Vegas Forecast and a Potential Win for AMD

In this Market Foolery podcast segment, host Chris Hill gets the lowdown from Motley Fool Asset Management's Bill Barker about the Deutsche Bank Technology Conference he attended last week in Las Vegas. These investment conferences provide their attendees with some insights that they may want to keep closer to the vest, but Bill was happy to talk about what he took away from the most interesting (and most popular) session: a presentation by electric car maker and disruptive force Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA). Bill talks about what impressed him with Tesla, which segues nicely into this week's report alleging the company is in talks with AMD (NASDAQ: AMD) to jointly develop its own autonomous car chips.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on Sept. 21, 2017.

Bill Barker: Tesla gave a good show. They did not do the usual "Here's a PowerPoint presentation on what is our business, and here are the growth rates and here's what we would like to do in the future, and here's why we have a competitive advantage over the competition," which is your standard 20-minute show -- and then there's a couple of minutes of questions. Tesla, I think, gets the assumption that everybody knows what they're up to and you can go right into the most interesting things right away. Unlike some companies, they're playing offense. And the companies that I was most interested in hearing the stories from were ones who have an offensive story to tell.

This was a tech conference, so that was plenty of companies, which have, in their own eyes, promising futures. And some do not. Some, which we in Asset Management have followed for years and had some investments in, not everything worked out. And I think Tesla referred to having 50% growth as far as the eye can see on an annual basis, which is the kind of numbers which, when you're up at the numbers they're already at, compound 50% over a few years and you get some really big numbers.

So whether they'll do it or not is, the representative mentioned, their job is not to find demand for their product, but to actually supply, to actually deliver on what they have promised up to date. And that is not as easy to do as just project out, and that is a challenge for them.

Chris Hill: As you said, that does tie into our first story, which is the fact that Tesla is reportedly working with AMD to develop its own artificial-intelligence chip for self-driving cars. AMD, the Washington Generals to Intel's Harlem Globetrotters. They are the Little Engine That Could of the chip world, and they are, my back-of-the-envelope math, AMD is 1/15 the size of Intel. But this is the kind of partnership, we don't know the details of it, but just the association alone sent shares of AMD up about 5% late last Wednesday afternoon, when the story broke. It's treading water to being up about 0.5% or so as we walked into the studio right now. Does this move the needle for them from here? Or does it really all come down to what are the terms of the deal? Because this is not Tesla saying, "Back up the truck; we want to buy as many chips. You name the price and we're going to pay it, because we love you guys so much more than Intel." This is much more of a "We want to work with you."

Barker: Right. In fact, it's not even necessarily that, because it's a report that they are talking to each other, and AMD's technology is something that Tesla is considering incorporating. So it's not solely dependent on video for the technology. So if you assume, as you very well may, that CNBC has the reporting right on this one, and that they are working together in some way, then it's an interesting opportunity for AMD. And the one thing that investors over the years have done, often to their detriment with AMD, is to get too excited. It is a company that, 10 years ago, had $6 billion in sales. It has about $4.5 billion in sales today.

Hill: Oh, that's lower, isn't it?

Barker: It's lower, and it hasn't really visited dramatically different numbers. It's not like it went from $6 billion up to $10 billion down to $2 billion. It's been between $4 billion and $6 billion for the last 10 years, sometimes with a little bit of profit, sometimes with a large amount of losses. The stock has been far more volatile than the underlying business. But over the last 10 years, the underlying business has not rewarded shareholders at all. It's got a less than 0.5% annualized return over the last 10 years. So, done much better in the last three to five years. It had a huge year as a stock last year. It was up 300%, as you may recall. I'm sure you've covered that a few times over the year. But really, the sales were within 10% of the previous year. So the market has decided it's much more interesting times ahead for AMD, but it's been about four or five years since it actually produced a profitable year.

Bill Barker has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Chris Hill has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.